Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Brake Wheel Cylinder

Brake wheel cylinders are a component found on modern drum brake systems. They are the hydraulic component that extends to press the brake shoes against the brake drum when the pedal is depressed. As they are a hydraulic component and subjected to the harsh conditions of braking, they can wear out over time and will eventually need to be replaced. When brake wheel cylinders do go bad, they will usually produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver that service may be required.

1. Mushy brake pedal

One of the first symptoms commonly associated with bad wheel cylinders is a mushy brake pedal. If wheel cylinders develop any sort of internal or external leak, their ability to pressurize and extend the piston may be compromised. This may result in a brake pedal that feels abnormally soft, or mushy, or a brake pedal that slowly sinks to the ground when it is depressed.

2. Poor brake response

Another symptom of bad or failing brake wheel cylinder is poor brake response. If any of the wheel cylinders fail, it may affect the pressure of the system, which will reduce the system’s ability to slow the vehicle. A vehicle with poor brake response will be harder to stop, especially in heavy braking situations.

3. Brake fluid leaks

Brake fluid leaks are another symptom of a problem with the brake wheel cylinders. If the wheel cylinders’ seals leak brake fluid will be visibly present. You may see a thin film covering the inside of the backing plate, or in more serious cases, drips or pools of brake fluid coming from the brake wheel cylinder. If a leak is large enough to be easily seen, that may also mean that the braking ability of the vehicle has probably already been compromised. Usually a quick visual inspection can reveal brake fluid leaks.

As the brake wheel cylinders are a part of the braking system, they are important to the overall safety of the vehicle. If you suspect that your wheel cylinders may be having a problem, or your vehicle is displaying any of the symptoms above, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic to determine if it is necessary to replace your brake wheel cylinder.


Next Step

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Joel

21 years of experience
960 reviews
Joel
21 years of experience
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Brake System Inspection - Jacksonville, Florida
Joel, did a very good job explained everything he was doing answered all my question and was straight forward what he is doing and going to do with fixing my truck
Infiniti G35 - Brake System Inspection - Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Joel was great. Honest fast and professional. He is the automobile maintenance version of the trusted family doctor, attorney etc. Good to have a QB to save time and $pin job at dealership etc!

Benji

22 years of experience
188 reviews
Benji
22 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake System Inspection - Phoenix, Arizona
Benji performed a detailed inspection on my 2007 Range Rover and completed the work very quickly. Highly recommend!!
Lincoln MKX - Brake System Inspection - Gilbert, Arizona
Very professional and knowledgeable. Very good business sense and cordial. Thank you for taking care of my car today! ☺

JOHNNY

33 years of experience
67 reviews
JOHNNY
33 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake System Inspection - Carmichael, California
Johnny was early, friendly, and thorough! He explained things to me about my car that I had no idea about before! I booked him for a diagnostic appointment and I’m definitely requesting him for a follow-up!

Dan

39 years of experience
856 reviews
Dan
39 years of experience
Nissan Murano - Brake System Inspection - Buford, Georgia
Very nice, professional, and knowledgeable! Felt at ease during the appointment and would recommend!

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